Phased easing of lockdown to begin in Scotland next week, Nicola Sturgeon confirms

Meeting people outside, sunbathing and some sports are to be allowed in Scotland from the end of next week as the lockdown measures are eased, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, she said the measures are part of a phased easing of restrictions, with the first phase to be introduced from May 28.

Some outdoor activity will be permitted from that point, including meeting people from “one other household” outside and while social distancing.

Sitting and sunbathing in parks will also be allowed, as will “some non-contact outdoor leisure activities” such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing.

Ms Sturgeon said people “will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling – to a location near their local community for recreation”, but they should “stay within or close to their own local area” if possible.

She said: “Waste and recycling services will resume, as will many outdoor businesses, such as agriculture and forestry.

“The construction industry will be able to carefully implement steps one and two of its six-step restart plan which it has developed with us. However, let me be clear that there must be genuine partnership with trade unions – this can only be done if it is done safely.”

From August 11, all schools in Scotland will reopen, she added.

But the First Minister told MSPs children will return to a “blended model of part-time in-school and part-time at-home learning”.

Teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term after the summer break.

During June and over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare and the Scottish Government will provide “transition support for children going into primary 1 or moving from primary 7 to secondary school”.

She added: “To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we are going to invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to study online.”

The First Minister said lockdown could be eased as the latest estimate of the reproduction rate – or R number – for the virus, remained between 0.7 and one.

She said that in March, the R number was estimated to have been four.

She cautioned, however, that there is still uncertainty about just how far below one it is.

The First Minister also announced the latest Covid-19 statistics in Scotland.

A total of 2,221 patients have died after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 37 from 2,184 on Wednesday.

The First Minister said 14,856 people have tested positive for the virus, up by 105 from 14,751 the day before.

There are 1,318 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 125.

Of these, 51 were in intensive care, a fall of two.

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